Contraband Jazz Orchestra po 30 letech (CZ)
Marcel Bárta, Tomáš Křemenák, Milan Krajíc, Pavel Pivarči – saxophones, Martin Brunner – flute, Radek Němec, František Kučera, Michal Gera – trumpets, Přemek Tomšíček – trombone, Filip Spálený – tuba, Radek Krampl – vibraphone, Jiří Šimek – guitar, Martin Kumžák – keyboard, Kryštof Marek – piano, Martin Lehký – bass guitar, Ivan Audes – percussion, Milan Svoboda – conductor
The Contraband Jazz Orchestra conducted by Milan Svoboda has reaped an abundance of ovations both at home and abroad since its foundation in the late 1980s. After a break of more than ten years, it is now returning to the stage to celebrate its third full decade.
If there is talk of domestic big-band jazz, you can never leave out the name of Milan Svoboda. The founder of the legendary Prague Big Band – an internationally renowned and acclaimed orchestra, which served as a breeding ground for young jazz talents especially in the late 1970s – has made an indelible mark on the Czech music scene both as a composer, arranger, pianist, and as a teacher.
The Contraband Orchestra was a sort of variant of Svoboda’s Prague Big Band. It formed during the summer jazz workshops that Svoboda headed, and it was comprised of a new generation of jazz musicians. Superb performances at the international festival in Karlovy Vary in 1988 (Grand Prix) and the big-band festival in Dortmund the following year (first prize) firmly entrenched the orchestra both at home and abroad. It enjoyed further success with its theatrical jazz-rock shows. Contraband will celebrate 30 years at JazzFestBrno. And make no mistake, this will be no self-serving celebration. The well-manned ensemble still has the stuff to inspire.
Luboš Andršt Blues Band & Peter Lipa (CZ, SK)
Luboš Andršt – guitar, Vladimír “Guma” Kulhánek – bass guitar, Pavel Razím – percussion, Peter Lipa – vocals, Jan Holeček – Hammond B3, Ondřej Konrád – harmonica
Luboš Andršt is the essential Czech blues guitarist. He is also living proof that blues and jazz are of the same blood.
“When I happen to be playing blues, I sometimes mix in a ‘twist of jazz’ and tie in some notes into the music that no one expects. But I also do the opposite. I put a blast of blues into jazz, and that always works,” says Andršt, describing the two genres like they were his own shoes. “Thanks to playing jazz and blues, I can stand firmly on the ground. If I only played one of them, I’d be swaying,” he quipped some years ago in an interview for Musicserver.
In the course of his career, he has worked with the very best of the Czech jazz and rock scene – Michal Prokop, Martin Kratochvíl, Jiří Stivín, or Emil Viklický, to name a few. He has also written himself into the history of Czech blues with his two performances with the legendary B. B. King.
Andršt’s mastery of the guitar has been recorded on 45 albums, which include more than 90 original compositions. At present, he performs with his jazz quartet the Luboš Andršt Group, with Michal Prokop in his Framus Five and Unplugged project, and also with his Blues Band, which he is taking to this year’s JazzFestBrno. The traditional line-up will be boosted by a special guest, the vocalist Peter Lipa, whose collaborative history with Andršt goes way back to the 1980s. They also co-recorded the cult albums Blues z lipového dřeva (Lime Wood Blues), Škrtni, co se nehodí (Cross Out What Does Not Apply), and Blues Office.